3 Quick Tips for Surfboard Care
How to care for your surfboard
This may be obvious for some of you but I still recommend you give it a read, there may just be a few items in here you haven’t thought of before. Let’s face it, many of our surfboards are more valuable to us than the actual money we spent on them, so it is a good idea to take proper care of your boards to make sure you have a long happy surfing life with them.
Surfboards are pretty fragile and considering the amount of abuse they go through on a daily basis, you are going to want to make sure you do what you can to avoid any unnecessary damage. A simple foam core, sometimes supported somewhat by a stringer of some type and wrapped in a paper thin “skin” made out of fiberglass and resin.
If you are anything like us, you want that magic stick to last. Hell, even a board that doesn’t work that good for you may be perfect for someone else, so it is a good I deal to take care of it to retain it’s resale value when you want to pass it on. Some people like to change their quiver out often, so again, the better you care for you boards, the more you can get for them and put towards a new custom surfboard or quiver.
Fortunately, there are some really easy things you can do to prolong the life and look of your boards. We spend hard earned dollars on our quivers, these 3 easy steps can help ensure you get the most out of your purchase.
Tip 1. Bag It
This is the most important and easiest thing you can do for your surfboard or whole quiver. The Surfboard Bag is way more than just a handy tool to help you carry your board around from point A to point B. I bet if you ask any ding repair shop, they will tell you that the majority of boards getting repaired are from non-surfing related incidents.
A bag is literally a safeguard against everything when your board is out of the water.
Although surfboards can handle a lot of stress and punishment when being put through the ringer when your boosting airs, taking late drops and getting throttled when paddling out on a heavy day, they are highly fragile out of the water. It doesn’t take much to crack or ding that board, and can happen in the most unlikely ways…a water bottle rolling around in your car, your dog playing tug of war with your leash, etc. A decent surfboard bag is a protective layer from dings, knocks, scratches, sunlight, absolutely everything when it’s out of the water.
Keep your board in it’s bag at all times, that way you can easily toss it in the back of your truck or car with little worry (just tie it down if in your truck), you can chill on the beach for a few hours after a session without worrying about the sun (on your board that is), you can safely keep it in your house or garage knowing that if something falls on it or it falls over, it’ll be safe. And it also keeps it cool when on the roof of your car, or in your car where the air temp can get extremely hot in a short period of time.
Too much heat can lead to delamintation or bubbles, where you find the “skin” peeling from the foam in certain areas. Plus, you can toss wetsuits, board shorts, fins, etc inside, making the bag do all the work for you.
Nat Young waits for the bus (yeah right) with his board in his Creatures of Leisure surfboard bag.
Tip 2. Keep it Safe
How many times have you seen someone new to surfing, or just someone clueless, lean their board on the car or against a wall standing upright. It doesn’t take much to cause that board to tip over and tumble around of the concrete. A light gust of wind, a heavy truck driving by rattling he ground, or someone tripping over the leash, pulling the board down…these are all things likely to put a nice ding in your board.
Use a little bit of common sense, like when you are at your car changing out of your wetsuit, either bag it right away and/or put it in you car before you change, or at the very least lay it on the ground, out of the way where no one can step on or drive over it. You don’t have to be that guy who needs to prop their board on their car so everyone can see that he/she just had a surf and they must rip. If you are standing at your car changing, people will get the idea.
Same thing should apply when in your house or garage. Don’t lean your board against a single wall, it is bound to tip to one side for one reason or another sooner or later. At least put it in a corner that it can lean it into, or better yet get some wall mounted surf racks so you can store your boards off the ground and prevent things from falling on it or people tripping over them. This will also help to keep you from stacking boards on one another and giving the bottoms a good ol wax job that is a pain in the butt to deal with.
And speaking about surf racks, you’ll get your moneys worth real quick from a good set for your car or even your bike.
We have all hopped on our bikes, one hand steering, the other holding the board and made it to the beach successfully. Racks on your bike will just keep your board parallel to the bike helping to prevent it from swinging out and hitting a light pole, tree or people, etc. A good set on your car will allow you to stack multiple boards (board bags and/or towels come in handy here) on the roof when on a road trip. They also allow you to keep the boards out of your car and wax off the upholstery, as well as cram in all your buddies for that road trip (as long as they pitch in for gas).
A key element here in the “keep in safe” section though, is to still make use of a board bag…it’ll come in handy in all areas, including being able to keep the boards on the roof of your car so they don’t get damaged by the sun’s strong UV rays that can yellow your board in no time. It is also a nice easy way to keep it out of site from wandering eyes who might be tempted to borrow your board permanently when you get to your favorite watering hole and need to stash it in your car.
Clay Marzo inspecting his Mad Cat model by SUPERBrand with a few more boards in the background stacked in the racks.
Tip 3. General Care and Maintenance
General care and maintenance of your board is crucial. If you get a ding, try to give it a little rinse when you get out of the water…you are more than likely going to give yourself a rinse at the beach shower if they are available, so just run your board under quickly too. Salt water is very corrosive and even though fiberglass is pretty resilient to it, it will do damage over time. Even boaters rinse off the decks and hulls of their boats after a sail. If a boat stays in the water, a special bottom paint is used, surfboards don’t want or need something like that, they just a quick rinse.
Fix your dings ASAP
Dings will let in the highly corrosive salt water and will eventually eat away at the foam inside the board if the are not attended too eventually. EPS/Epoxy boards are especially bad since they almost suck up water like a sponge. The foam is not as dense as polyurethane (PU), so you should immediately get out of the water if it happens while surfing. PU is a little more resilient so it is not as urgent, but you should still get out soon if you get a ding.
In both cases, try rinse your board with fresh water, the whole board, even over the dinged area and let it dry out thoroughly before you patch it up. You don’t want to trap that corrosive salt water in there.
Most surf shops carry ding repair kits, and there are a lot of resources available to fix your own dings through places like Fiberglass Hawaii where you can get the materials you need to repair any surfboard. But, make sure you know if you have a standard PU or an epoxy surfboard. When in doubt get yourself an epoxy repair kit as the resin is compatible with all types of foam. Polyester resin (common on the majority of PU foam surfboards) will melt the EPS foam found in most Epoxy resin boards.
And here is a little hint you probably are not aware of: If you have a board with epoxy resin that is starting to yellow, you can grab one of those reddish scotch brite pads and give the board a light one over. It takes a very small amount of the surface resin away that has been yellowed by the sun’s UV rays. Your board will brighten up giving it an almost new look. Don’t worry though, it would take hundreds of times doing this to do any damage to the board, getting through all the resin and into the weave of the cloth. You would only need to do it once in a blue moon to make it feel fresh again. This won’t affect the performance in any way good or bad, it’ll just make the board look a little newer.
And the last couple of points…don’t ride your board all the way into the beach, running your fins into the sand. Why compromise your fin boxes and risk loosing a fin in the process.
Be aware of that tempting shore break closeout section you want to hit to impress the girls getting rays on the beach. Chances are they are more concerned about their tan and wouldn’t even notice you anyways.
And wear a leash. The last thing you want do it loose your board and have it roll up onto the rocks repeatedly waiting for you to get to it. Or even worse into some innocent kids head where not only will you damage your board, you can do some serious damage to that poor kids as well.
Flying high on a Nation Surfboard, at least he won’t be swimming after it if he doesn’t stick it!
Sum it Up
A lot of this info may be common knowledge to some of you already, but it is still good to have a reminder every now and then and definitely a good read for someone new to surfing who just may not have thought about it before. We are not trying tell you that you have to follow these procedures, I for one am guilty of breaking all of them (you should see the stack of boards on the ground in my garage), they are just good handy rules of thumb to follow for anyone and every board to help prolong it’s life.
Surfboards should not be as disposable as they are these days. The more broken, discarded and thrown away boards added to our landfills that take hundreds of years to break down, just add to how toxic our sport really is. Take care of your boards, fix your dings and keep them as long as possible. We owe it to mother nature who is nice enough to allow us to play in her ocean.
Now let me go finish building out the surf rack in my garage.
Make sure you check out the Board Engine to find a range of boards all made in the USA by professional shapers at the top of their crafts.